Becoming a game dev

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Hi, everyone!

First of all wanted to congratulate Hinterland Games with their Kickstarter success. Go, guys and girls!

And what I wanted to ask here is does anyone have any suggestions on how to start a career in game development? I'm really interested in a way to do it when you already have a job, you are already past the moment in your life when you can spend a lot of time on side projects (like you have a family, kids, a job). In this case, as you can see, something like college or internship is really not an option.

I am a software developer myself, but now I'm doing web development, and that's a totally different field. Can anyone suggest a good way to start?

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Guest Alan Lawrance


The two things that matter the most for starting a career in game development are skills and passion. The best way to demonstrate these things to a potential employer is to create something. By creating something you are proving that you have both the skills and passion to get something done.

You don't have to create a large game either. It can be something small -- what is important is that it is complete. Another good way to demonstrate skills/passion is involvement with a mod team. This has the bonus of showing that you can work with others to get things done.

In terms of languages, I recommend using C/C++ since most game companies use that for game development. It would also be good to learn Python or C#, as that is frequently used on the tools side (if that is where your interest lies).

Above all though, roll up your sleeves and start making something. There are lots of game development learning resources available on the internet. Unity is becoming popular as an engine (we use it at Hinterland), so you should download the free version and start learning how to use it.

Good luck, and feel free to email me if you want to talk more off-forum.

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  • Hinterland

The best way to become a game developer is to make games. And it's never been easier, even if you're involved with other full-time pursuits. In fact, most people I know in the industry broke in based on portfolios and passion. Game schools weren't around when we started and even today, we don't put much stock in those degrees when hiring. Most of us broke in to the industry by working to pay the rent while burning the midnight oil to build up the portfolio, learn the craft, make contacts, etc.

Having a portfolio that shows off your talent and passion is the most important thing. But beyond that, there is nothing stopping you from making a game by yourself or with a few other like-minded people. A Unity license is very inexpensive. There are tons of tutorials out there. If you need temp assets, the Unity Store has tons that are also inexpensive.

The industry is hugely competitive and there's no shortage of people lining up for jobs. If you want to apply to work at a studio, you need a portfolio that illustrates your skill and passion, you need to show that you understand and play a lot of games, and ideally have the personality traits and skills to work with a team (game dev is highly collaborative unless you can do everything yourself).

But if you just want to make a game, go make a game. Unity, App Store, iPads, etc. It's never been easier, and the barrier to entry has never been lower.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

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Thanks, Alan, Raph!

I have already looked at Unity and Unreal Engine, although I gotta say that the lack of SDK for Linux holds me back a little (I work using the open source stack).

I guess you're right, in the end what matters is how much effort you put into it and whether you have enough enthusiasm to keep you through the "plateau" parts of the learning :)

By the way, I hope I'm not the only one inspired by the success of independent projects like yours and a lot of others. These projects show the development process in a whole new light, so you start to believe that it's not magic, it's just a lot of hard work done by regular people.

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  • Hinterland

[Didn't see Alan's post when I was writing mine, so apologies if there is overlap in our comments; definitely listen to Alan as his programmer background is more relevant to your interests, although the suggestions are pretty universal -- do the work, don't give up, and don't wait for someone to give you a job...]

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I will also add, I'm retired for Military Injury reasons, and have gone on the path to teach myself, Objective C for iOS Development, and the biggest thing and the hardest thing i have found with this, is that Apple

Keep changing their rules, which is fine as they are allowed to, but if your a 1 man Dev team, it becomes hard, long and exhausting.

Apple keeps adding new and great hardware that game Developers can take hold of and then in some great way, introduce them into their code. The biggest problem with this is trying to keep up with all the changes going on. In the Hardware and in Apples Xcode. I found once I'm up to speed on one thing, it either changes or things are added, or its done a different way, so again it becomes exhausting. Like i put my App in for them to say "Yes its OK to go in the iTunes Store" for it to be sent back, as i wasn't up with a certain change in how they wanted something done and was rejected. I did get it up with help from Member in the Dev Forums.

As others have said, you need passion and a want to learn a lot of time and more passion

Im not sure which way your OS and Phone lies, the dark side or the green side but there is a plethora of information on iTunes, and uTunes and full complete degree courses for learning code

I don't know outside of iOS at the moment, but I'm seeing things are more value to a customer if its cross platform and OS, so I'm going to delve into the Mac OS program later next year and then start working in the cloud (as in the App).

If you really want to get a good hold of things, learn the C Language by itself, and if you get a good hold of the C Language, then Objective C, C#, C+, C++ will all fall into place, as they are ALL based on the C Language. I learnt the hard way, but went back and started from the beginning and started with C and then Obj C, looked like english to me :)


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